Since the late 1990s the incidence of meningococcal disease has decreased in the United States, but for children and adolescents who may be at risk for the disease, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has updated vaccine recommendations.
In the policy statement, "Updated Recommendations on the Use of Meningococcal Vaccines," published online July 28 in the August 2014 Pediatrics, the AAP recommends an age-appropriate meningococcal conjugate vaccine instead of the meningococcal polysaccharide vaccine for children and adolescents.
All adolescents should be routinely immunized at 11 to 12 years of age, and given a booster does at 16 years of age. Unvaccinated or first-year college students who have previously been vaccinated through age 21 living in residence halls who received their last dose before their 16th birthday should also receive a single dose of quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine.
Specific meningococcal serogroups can cause disease in certain age groups and geographic areas. In the United States, a specific serogroup, N. meningitidis B, which is not in the currently in the licensed conjugate vaccine, is frequently seen in children under 5 years of age. Whereas, other serogroups that are in the available conjugate vaccine are responsible for the majority of cases in adolescents.
Meningococcal disease is associated with a variety of infections, such as meningitis and pneumonia, and can ultimately be fatal. It is important for adolescents and selected groups of children at increased risk for the disease to be immunized as recommended by their pediatrician or healthcare provider.